This blog entry about the events of Wednesday, November 21, 2007 was originally posted on November 24, 2007.

DAY 2:  Thanksgiving is the time of year in late November, at least in America (and in October in Canada), where we get together with loved ones over a big meal and pretend that our forefathers didn’t wipe out an entire race of indigenous people.  It is also a time when we are to give thanks for the things we have in life.  This year, 2007, I am thankful for two things:

1) Not being eaten by sharks
2) Canadians

ON THANKSGIVING DAY 2003, on my big trip around the world, I was on a cruise through the Galapagos Islands, where I’d been diving with hammerhead sharks and hiked in the presence of many endemic birds, like the friggit bird and the blue-footed boobie.  Even with all that excitement, that Thanksgiving four years ago was anti-climatic; most of the other passengers were non-celebrating non-Americans who only knew that it was Thursday.

This time, Thanksgiving would be better, or so I’d hoped, even though it still involved another boat with another set of scuba dives.  The first of these dives would be at The Blue Hole, an underwater limestone sinkhole that is almost completely circular — 1000 ft. in diameter and 400 ft deep — and colored deep blue, strikingly constrasting its surrounding turquoise waters.  It is a part of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, about two hours by boat off the main Belizean Barrier Reef, made famous by none other than Jacques Cousteau, who explored it with his crew on the ship, the Calypso in 1971. 

“THERE ARE FOURTEEN OF US,” said Mel, a young Aussie girl on a youth-oriented, open-ended tour through the Yucatan.  “But only four of us here [on this boat].”  Her tour group of fourteen people had a free day in Caye Caulker to do as they pleased, so she and three others opted to snorkel at the famous azure natural phenomenon.  “When you’re here in Belize, you have to see The Blue Hole!” Mel exclaimed.

Going to the Blue Hole was a bit of a haul, even with the boat going as fast as it could.  The boat was not the big Calypso (or the Belafonte for that matter) but a smaller 30-footer operated by Aqua Dives, a local dive shop, led by divemaster Donovan, a Belizean guy with a gold tooth.  Like another man on board, Monty, he was not just a divemaster, but a captain, first mate, crewman, etc. — it was like the “Hey Mon” skits on In Living Color.  “We do it all,” Donovan said. 

About an hour en route to the Blue Hole, a lone house standing on an island appeared in the near distance.  “Who do you suppose lives there?” I asked Mel.

“Uh, John Travolta.”

“I don’t know if that’s his style.”

“Oh, no.  Oh!  Johnny Depp!  You know how he’s a ‘Pirate of the Caribbean,’” she said with a big Aussie smile.  “Wooo! Johnny!  I’m home!”  Her two Aussie friends were as energetic as she was, but that didn’t hold true for the guy with them, a Canadian whose name escapes me, but everyone called “Canadia.”  He was out of it on the boat, lying down and looking sickly; I thought it might have been motion sickness, but he told me that he was probably hungover from a late night the night before. 

Also on the ship: a French Swiss couple I’d met on the pier that morning — the woman, Daniela, of which was my dive buddy — a lone Aussie cardiologist who was travelling on her own, and two American couples.  Before we knew it, we were in the Blue Hole itself, or above it on the surface at least, surrounded by an immersed ring of coral because of the high tide.  Being in the hole was sort of anti-climactic; the classic, color-contrasting view of the Blue Hole is from the sky, and being in the hole at a lateral position, there wasn’t much of a difference in appearance between the water color immediately surrounding us, or the water half a mile away.

No matter, the beauty of the Blue Hole is inside, underwater, and so we geared up (picture above) and submerged ourselves after a brief safety check with Donovan to review our hand signals and such, in case we ran out of air, or got nitrogen narcosis and crazy eye.  In the abyss, we saw what Jacques Cousteau found: magnificent limestone stalagtites hanging down from an overhang in the reef wall.  In the darkness of 140 ft. below the sea level, it was very surreal, like out of a sci-fi movie, with the stalagtites protruding down like fangs of big underwater monster.  Even with us weaving in and out of the limestone formations in a controlled manner so as not to sink down to the deadly bottom of the hole, everything was fine until I saw the silhouette of another monster: a reef shark.  In the distance above our heads, the shape of Jaws swam ominously.  The closer we swam, the more silhouettes appeared, and eventually we saw the actual views of a school of about eight reef sharks, each about 12-ft long.  Swimming amidst them, sometimes as close as 15 ft., we cautiously went on our way.  I knew that there would be no problem if I did not provoke them, so I refrained myself from saying something about their mama.

In the end, the Blue Hole dive stood out as one of my best dives to date.  The others agreed.

“Oh, I’m still dreaming of stalagtits! [sp]” said my dive buddy Daniela in her French Swiss accent, which made me snicker like an immature schoolboy.

“It was like a dream!” raved a busty woman from Colorado.  “Those stalagtites.”

“And then there were sharks!” I reminded her, trying to refrain myself from staring at her cleavage.  (How do you like them stalagtits?)

“I know!” she continued.  “Then we were swimming with sharks!”  Others continued to rave with words like “amazing,” “special” and “surreal.”

“Now that’s a Thanksgiving!”

THERE WERE TWO MORE dive/snorkel sites around the Lighthouse Reef Atoll that day, both exciting as well.  The second, at Half Moon Caye, we saw two big spotted eagle rays and a stingray.  “Is that the one that got Steve Irwin,” joked one of the American guys. 

The third dive of the day was a site aptly named “Aquarium.”  We were graced by hundreds of thousands of colorful fish swimming around beautiful coral gardens, and with great visibility too.  No sharks appeared on the later dives, but we were greeted by barracudas, a couple of lobsters and a sea turtle. 

“How was your dive?” Mel asked me.

“Excellent!” I raved.  “Those might be the best dives I’ve done to date.  How was your snorkeling?”

“Good, but there were so many scuba divers in the way,” she said with a smirk.  “Too many bubbles.”

We all head back to Caye Caulker, both snorkelers and divers, raising our cups of complimentary rum punch after a good day out. 

THANKSGIVING LUNCH, a meal of stewed chicken, rice and beans and water pouches, may have been a casual affair on the beautiful island of Half Moon Cayehome of a bird sanctuary for friggit birds and red-footed boobies — but Thanksgiving dinner was a tad more traditional by American standards.  “The sports bar in town is doing a full Thanksgiving dinner [with turkey and stuffing],” one of the American guys informed me. 

“The Canadian sports bar?” I wondered.


“But they’re Canadian,” I said.  “It was Thanksgiving for them five weeks ago!”  I wasn’t complaining of course, for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on the road is hard to come by; my Thanksgiving dinner in the Galapagos was a breaded steak; my Thanksgiving dinner in Bangkok was crab and prawns.  This year, not only would I have turkey for dinner, but I’d have it with a fellow American.

CAMILLA HAD BEEN AN S.B.R. of my big RTW blog, and finally broke the silence a couple of years ago in an email to me.  Since then, we had been occasional e-pen pals and chat buddies, and it was only until about a month ago that, with some to travel on her hands, she decided she’d meet me on a whim in Central America.  I invited her to meet up with me in Belize for Thanksgiving and hoped for the best.  I didn’t really know what her schedule or inclination to meet up in Caye Caulker was; she already had a week’s long head start in Central America from me, starting in Honduras.  I was wondering if she was going to come at all, if our tentative Thanksgiving plan would fall through. 

“I have a surprise for you,” Amy at the hostel said, as I walked to the porch of the guesthouse.

“A surprise?”

“It’s a girl.”

“Oh, she’s here!”

Camilla was nowhere to be found in the guesthouse, but Amy spotted her at the nearby basketball court, chatting with some local guy who had been flirting with her all day.  “Hey!” she called to me after taking notice, as I walked along the upper deck of the house.

“Hey, Camilla!  Wait… uh, hold on.  I’m coming down.  I’m not jumping down there.”  I recognized Camilla right away as she was a doppelganger for my friend Sara in New York.  I greeted her with a hug and kiss on the cheek as if we’d been long lost friends — even though technically, this was our first real encounter.

“I told you I’d be here for Thanksgiving!” she told me.  It was actually quite a haul for her coming from Honduras that morning via a series of three flights — but all in the name of keeping her word.

“What should we do for Thanksgiving dinner?” she asked.  I told her about the traditional turkey dinner at the Canadian sports bar.  It was decided, even with the circumstances: “I’ll watch you eat turkey.”

I remembered.  “Oh, that’s right.  You’re a vegetarian.”

Regardless of her eating preference, I was happy to have the company — especially one that knew what day it was — and was thankful for the Canadians for giving me the turkey option on the special occassion.  It was a good dinner actually, with freshly carved turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and even a slice of canned cranberry sauce, just like my mom used to make.  Camilla, in actuality a pesci- ovi- lacti - vegetarian, had the lobster and jalapeño.  We toasted our two-for-one cocktail specials. 

“Happy Thanksgiving!”

“Happy Thanksgiving!”

CAMILLA AND I hit it off fairly well — a good thing because you can never really tell how a blog reader truly is until you meet them — and it had nothing to do with us goofing off as I sneaked scraps of mash potatoes to one of the stray dogs that lurked around our dinner table.  Back at the hostel, we befriended a funny, drunk French guy named Manu (“like Manu Chao”) hanging out at the hostel garden, who started chatting with me after dismounting his girlfriend from a makeout session.

“You know The Goonies?” Manu asked me in his French accent.

“The Goonies… yes! Everyone knows the Goonies.”

“You look like Data!”  He pretty much called me that all evening and it started to get tired fast.  Plus, in his drunken stupor, he repeated everything to me about three times.  “Data, can I check my e-mail?” Manu asked politely.


“Thank you Data.  It is very important for me to communicated with my friends in France.”


“It is very good for me to communicate with my friends in France.”


“Data, do you want some rum?”

“Sure.”  We toasted and chat for a bit as the ocean breeze filled the air.  With Camilla, we conducted conversation in broken English, Spanish and French.

“Tu parle français?”

“Ouais.  Un peu.”

“Data, it is very good for me to communicate with my friends in France.”

Camilla and I eventually ditched Manu and eventually went out to the only happening place on the island in the low season that night: the Oceanside Bar, where people were singing “Three Little Birds” on karaoke when we walked in.  There was a tap on my shoulder as I stepped inside.  My first inclination was that it was the bouncer, asking me for ID (I get that all the time), but it was Canadia, who was greeting me to the party.

Thanksgivings may come and go, but when you’re on the road feeling a little nostalgic, sometimes it’s the Canadians you can be thankful for. 


The stray dogs on the Caye Caulker convene in a very social manner.  One dog actually got his paw twisted and trapped inside a hammock at the hostel garden.  He struggled to come undone, but the more effort he put into it, the more tangled he became, and it was like he was trapped in an arm sling that wouldn’t come loose.  It cried for help from the other dogs, who tried to come to his aid, but unfortunately, none of them had opposable thumbs, and the trapped dog got more tangled and cried even louder.  Camilla and I untied the hammock from the tree and let him loose, and even though he didn’t say it, I’m sure he was thankful for a couple of Americans that Thanksgiving Day.

Next entry: Last Night I Dreamt Of Some Bagel

Previous entry: Sisters

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Comments for “Thanksdiving”

  • It’s two in the morning, and I’m exhausted from trying to get this entry up so as not to start falling behind.  I’m already behind one entry according to my schedule; I apologize.  Hope this one will do for the WHMMR; I’m heading off on a bus tomorrow on the mainland and I’m not quite sure of the internet situation just yet. 

    Stay tuned!

    P.S.  Sorry, this one is not that fine-tuned since I was half asleep writing the later parts… but hey, it’s a blog.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/24  at  07:03 AM

  • that’s cool you were able to get turkey…we couldn’t get any in Tobago two years ago…

    stalagteets!...jus tryin no to stare…

    Posted by markyt  on  11/24  at  02:57 PM

  • Camilla sounds like a good sport… I mean really, struggling and suffering to join a world traveller on a beautiful tropical island. Ha! Sounds like you’re off to a great start—diving right in, as it were. And for what it’s worth, I think you’re more like a mix of the Goonies: big talker (Mouth), sensationalist (Chunk), sentimental fool (Mikey), tough-guy (Bran), and gizmo-geek (Data).

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/24  at  03:24 PM

  • “dismounted” hehehehe nice one.

    I would have loved to be there with you Eric, but I have to avoid reggae music at all costs! So glad you had a great dive and did not get eaten by sharks.

    you just don’t see sharks on cuteoverload.

    Posted by mia  on  11/24  at  05:43 PM

  • Awesome - sounds lovely. It’s very fitting that Planet Earth is on now, with manta rays on this part. smile
    Glad you got some good turkey!! It’s always a nice feeling.
    Hope I was a good travel buddy for you.
    Going to do more diving in Thailand in April - wanna come? wink
    Happy bus travels!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/25  at  04:16 AM

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  • Loving the new blog Eric.  Its so cold in Scotland right now, the tropical pictures are a nice escape.

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  • we aim to please.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/25  at  12:49 PM

  • Ah Erik - it was nice to come into work this morning after being in a NIZ myself and see 2 more entries!  This is great!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/25  at  12:53 PM

  • Second time I’ll barely miss the Trinidad show on my travels - I was a week or two ahead of you in Thailand and will be a week or so behind you in Guatemala, I think..

    Loved the wacky French guy.  It is very important for him to communicate with his friends in France - haha.

    Posted by sara  on  11/25  at  03:28 PM

  • this is only day 2 and your swimming with reef sharks for thanksgiving!  survivorman got nuttin on you.  (i hear he stays in 5 star hotels when the cameras are off anyway)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/25  at  04:12 PM

  • I made it a rule years ago to avoid French Guys named Manu. They tend to be “special” people.

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  • Hey Rik just got back from Peru a few days ago Decided to check in on the website and see what you were upto… chau

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  • Those lobster tails sounded really good mang !!!

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This blog post is one of thirty-nine travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: The Central American Eviction Tour* (*with jaunt to Colombia)," which chronicled a six-week journey through Central America, with a jaunt to Bogota, Colombia.

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Last Night I Dreamt Of Some Bagel

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Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.

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The views and opinions written on The Global Trip blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official views and opinions of the any affiliated publications.
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